Person of the Week
House Manager Assistant
I like being helpful to people. It makes me feel good that I can meet a need and help somebody’s life go more easily.
1. What led you to the mission of being a house manager Assistant?
To do this job you have to love to serve and take orders too. That’s the main thing.
What trained me was my life experience. By the time I was three, my mother had me help make the bed. I was too small to do much of anything, but she made it fun by saying things like, “Take the corner of the fitted sheet and hop on over to the corner. I would get on my hands and knees and hop over to the corner of the bed to pull the fitted sheet over the mattress.
From the time we were four or so, my sisters and I always had chores. We could collect waste cans around the house and take them out to the main trashcan. From the time I was ten on or younger, my sister and I were pretty much in charge of the house. We each had a bathroom to clean and each week we would switch bathrooms. That way we weren’t always working on the same bathroom. We also took turns making the meals. We did vacuuming and dusting each week. Each week we would switch those chores as well. One week I would vacuum. The next week I would dust.
We were trained at a very young age. When my sister and I would go over to friend’s houses, we would help them clean their bedrooms, family rooms, and bathrooms. That’s what we would do. We made that part of the play. We pretended that was our house that we were cleaning.
The mom and the grandma of this one friend of ours had us help them clean out their garage. I remember we were working so hard on that as kids. We thought we had done such a good job. The grandmother didn’t think we did a good job. She had us come in and redo everything. She said, “A job isn’t worth doing unless it is done well.” I remember that statement even today. Maybe that is why I am so thorough and methodical today when I clean. I don’t want to have to redo it. That has stuck with me for my whole life. I wasn’t even a teenager when we did that. I must have been twelve or under.
An opportunity opened up for me to work for a family. They needed somebody temporarily. However, after several months, the family asked if I would be interested in continuing to help them out in other ways. I told them, “Yes, that would be fine!” Since I needed a job, I thought, “Well, this might be interesting.” The family needed help organizing, cleaning out closets, and moving things from one area to the next. They were trying to open up space and needed help with housekeeping. One thing led to the next. Now I do anything from childcare to grocery shopping to mending things, folding laundry, picking up or taking kids to school – whatever the need happens to be in the family. I am an all around helper for this family.
2. What does this mission mean to you?
I am a service oriented type person. It is satisfying to me to help make people happy by helping out. I am helpful and like being helpful to people. I’m meeting a need. If I can help somebody’s life go more easily in some way, it makes me feel good that I can meet a need.
A lot of the compensation is not just monetary. My boss is very generous. If I am picking up food or whatever, she will say, “Go ahead and get some for you too.” This is really nice. Besides feeling satisfied and helping people, the compensation often comes in a lot of different forms. She might order something online in bulk and then share things that she has ordered with me. It might be in the way of food, household items, books, or clothes. It is nice. This job has been beneficial for the family and for me. I’ve been doing it for close to ten years.
3. What was your best day as a house manager Assistant?
I like the feeling of accomplishment. To help people get their house organized and cleaned out is very satisfying to me. Let me give you an example. There was a pantry that needed to be organized. I cleared it out, cleaned it up, and gave it a thorough cleaning. That was very satisfying. This was a large walk-in pantry and it became organized and cleaned from floor to ceiling. I was very, very excited about that. I felt great. It was reorganized, everything was put into place, and a lot of things were given away. This was great for my employer and gave me a great feeling too. We’ve also done other areas of the house like that. Being able to clear out and make the place look nice is always quite satisfying for me.
4. What was your worst day as a house manager assistant?
I like being helpful and one day I looked at some things and thought they could be put into the recycle bin. After doing so, I was alerted that I had put a plastic cup in the bin. This particular cup was one that someone was looking for and was not supposed to go into the recycle bin. I realized that this was not my house and that I needed to do what my employer wanted done. I certainly would not have wanted someone to throw away certain things in my house. I would want to make sure things that were being thrown away were given the OK first.
I felt very bad that I had recycled something that was still wanted in the home. Being in the area of service, I wanted to be efficient and get rid of certain things. I thought that might be helpful. But in this case getting rid of something was hurtful to the person that wanted that item. I thought, “I hope I don’t lose my job!”
Thankfully the recycle bin had not been pulled to the curb and emptied out yet. I was able to go through everything in the recycle bin and find the plastic cup. Everything was OK then. I did realize that I needed to be alert to what everyone’s desires are and what the rules of the house are so that I just don’t make my own decisions in somebody else’s house.
That was a lesson that I needed to learn. Now I know from now on to find out ahead of time before I get rid of something. Nothing can be tossed out – even if it looks like trash. It might not be trash. I can’t just assume that is trash. It might be something someone is keeping. It could even have been kept as a sample in order to reorder something or replace it. Now I wash out containers and leave them in a place where they can be sorted for recycling.
One time there was a prescription to be picked up. I thought, “Oh I’ll be helpful and go and pick up the prescription. Won’t they be happy I’m doing this ahead of time.” I was thinking I would be commended for helping out. But instead I discovered this was not the right thing to do. I felt really bad about that.
The prescription was for someone who was out of town, but was coming back. If that person had needed the prescription out of town, they couldn’t have filled it since I had already gotten it.
Everything worked out with the prescription. It’s just a matter of waiting to be told what to do. As a home manager, you have to wait until you are instructed. This is probably the biggest thing: to wait until you are instructed.
5. How did you survive your worst day?
I learned that what helps me, as home assistant, is to listen and see what needs to be done. A lot of my instructions are through notes and emails. But I also need to make sure what those notes are saying and what I should do before I act on them.
It seems silly to have gotten so upset about the recycling or prescription. However, I saw how upset my behaviors could make someone else. It made me sad that I had upset someone else. We talked it through and came to a happy understanding with each other.
Getting through a bad day has to do with forgiving myself. I need to be more loving and understanding of myself. I have to forgive myself. Others forgive me before I forgive myself. I can be pretty hard on myself some times. What I have learned is to push through and remind myself that I can get through these various challenges and stop being worried or upset. I know things will come out OK in the end eventually.
Another thing that helps is to really get to know how the household runs. I have a routine and know the things that I am expected to do. I know the things that I can and can’t do. There has been a lot of learning that goes into it. I’m very good at detail and thoroughness. I might not be very fast, but am thorough. I call it slow and methodical. The family likes that. I’m not racing and missing things. I pay attention to detail and make sure everything is done properly.